Gondwana Isolation Refuted with Surat Coalmine Insect Fossils Similar to Europe


Gondwana land or Indian subcontinent remained isolated for 30 million years before thrusting itself north to give rise to Himalayas — is not a theory in tact but there are some missing middle in it, showed a research by a group of researchers from Germany, Poland and India.

Based on tiny insect fossils near Surat, which are similar to fossils found in Europe and China, they said these insects could have moved across the ocean alongwith island-hopping birds. Known as ‘biting midges’, these insects measure less than a millimeter long and were found fossilized in amber, a tree resin in the Cambay basin near Surat in Gujarat.

The paleontologists estimated their age at 54 million years ago, which coincides with the previously thought period when Indian plate was purportedly isolated and surrounded by oceans. As the Indian subcontinent harbours unique species of flora and fauna, which reflect no exchange with other regions, leading to the belief that India remained isolated for millions of years due to continental drift.

Scientists assumed that the supercontinent Gondwana later drifted into parts giving away to current South America, Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Madagascar, besides India in due course of geological history. Then the upward thrust towards the north east resulted in its collision with the Eurasian plate. But disproving the entire theory, scientists now cite amber in Surat.

“Certain midges that occurred in India at this time display great similarity to examples of a similar age from Europe and Asia,” said lead author Frauke Stebner from the Steinmann Institute at the University of Bonn, Germany.

He has mined for amber in seams of coal near Surat that left for archaeological survey after mining was done. These small midges were found encased in tree resin 54 million years ago in the form of fossils and their descendants can still be found today in Germany in meadows and forests. These insects attack animals and humans in swarms and suck the blood.

“There was significant conformity with biting midges in amber from the Baltic and Fushun in north-east China,” reports Stebner, who studied 38 of them from the Surat coal mine, which collates the new theory that the Indian subcontinent was not isolated for 30 million years.

The research study had its Indian contribution from Hukam Singh, a scientists at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleosciences, Lucknow and the study was published in journal PLOS ONE.

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